Way, way, way back in the day, I told my parents that I wanted to go party at another university for the weekend. I didn’t ask; I informed them.
They said no, I couldn’t go.
Nonplussed, I hopped in someone’s car and off my friends and I went to a university two hours away where I had all the fun to be had.
Back then “daisy dukes” (short shorts) were really in and I found a pair that “fit.” I was really proud of these shorts because I have some lovely thighs that usually made such shorts a no go for me. I recall sporting these shorts around my parents house one weekend when I was home from college. My dad, who is quite proper, commented on the shorts and asked me not to wear them anymore because he thought they were inappropriate.
I replied that I wouldn’t wear them in his home anymore.
He narrowed his eyes at me a bit, but said nothing.
I was in that gray area of life where I was still dependent, but I was also an adult and flexing about making some adult decisions like where I would party and what I would wear. I don’t recall asking for permission much during those days. I remember feeling so good about the increasing freedom I had to do what I wanted.
Fast forward many years and now I have a daughter of my own in college. I assumed that she would flex a bit.
For the most part, she hasn’t. In fact, she discloses WAY too much about what shenanigans she been up to. And before you say, oh she’s not telling you everything….even if that were true, she still has shared too much.
She also asks for permission.
Recently her favorite band announced that there would be a concert in the area this summer. She rang me up to ask if she could go if she saved the money.
My internal monologue was like, “If you plan to save up for the ticket, why are you even asking????” Out loud, I simply said, “Sure, save up your dollars and have fun.”
It’s in these moments that I’m reminded of the challenges Hope has endured.
When Hope’s social worker flew with her to visit me the first time, she shared that Hope was emotionally only about 5, despite a chronological age of 12. She’s grown so much in the years since then, but as for maturity….well, Hope has certainly matured, but is she emotionally 18?
Hope is able to mimic maturity for short bursts, but eventually it all comes out. If I had to guess, I would estimate an emotional age of 14 or so. This would explain why she gets along so well with my 11 year old nephew and also has a whole lot of difficulty navigating socially with her own peer group.
This is also why my beautiful daughter called me from her college dorm to ask me if she could spend her own money on a concert ticket and actually go to said concert.
At her age, if I did ask, I didn’t have any difficulty openly defying my folks because I reasoned that I…was…
Hope is still very much my little girl. Which is kind of crazy to me. When I adopted a 12 year old, I never thought I would be tucking her in at night, reading her stories, buying her *white* tights to wear (she picked them while I screamed on the inside) or numerous other things that I thought were completely fixed to children much younger than 12. There were many moments that I treasure the connection forged in those moments while hating that Hope needed it because she was so deeply hurt.
It scares me, though. If Hope is really 14 and away at college…
*pauses to reflect more on my own collegiate shenanigans*
This could be a hot mess.
I know she is more vulnerable. She is so eager to make friends that she is at risk for manipulation. She’s often so lonely which only drives the risk and vulnerability up higher.
In the midst of my persistent amusement at Hope’s attempts to begin adulting, I’m saddened that once again her trauma puts her in such a predicament. I’m angry about it. I’m frustrated for her.
I’m hopeful that 2020 will bring advancements in her healing that will bring her closer to her chronological age and all the joys that come with it.